Photograph by John Kernick
This is our favorite recipe of our grandmother’s and the first one she taught us to make. Yiddish for “almond bread,” mandelbrot is the Jewish version of biscotti. Because these cookies are twice-baked, they are crisp and crunchy — and highly addictive. Delicious served with coffee, tea and dessert wine for dunking — or as Grandma Mary sometimes did, eaten for breakfast.
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped raw walnuts
3¼ cups all-purpose flour plus extra for flouring the work surface
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup golden raisins
1 large egg white
1) Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F.
2) Spread the almonds and 1 cup of the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until they are toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on the pan. Leave the oven on.
3) In a medium mixing bowl, sift together 3 cups of the flour, the baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In large mixing bowl, whisk together the 4 whole eggs and 1¼ cups of the sugar. Whisk in the oil, vanilla extract, almond extract, and ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Gradually stir in the flour mixture, blending with a wooden spoon. Fold in the toasted nuts and the raisins. The dough should be soft and workable but not sticky. If it is sticky add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, not to exceed ¼ cup. (You can also cover and refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes to 1 hour to make it more workable. If you do, turn off the oven now and turn it back on when you are about to shape the dough.)
4) Finely chop the remaining 1 tablespoon of walnuts. Put them in a small mixing bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
5) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
6) Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide it into thirds. Dampen your hands with cold water and shape each piece into a log about 3 inches wide and 12 inches long. Place the logs on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them. Use your hands to even the sides of the logs, creating long rectangles.
7) Whisk the egg white in a small mixing bowl to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash onto the top of each log. Sprinkle each with a third of the cinnamon sugar-walnut blend, about 1 tablespoon each.
8) Bake until golden and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven but leave the oven on. Let the loaves cool slightly, only 3 to 5 minutes. (Do not let the loaves cool too long or the slices will crumble when you cut them.)
9) Transfer the loaves to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Arrange the cookies in a single layer on two ungreased rimmed baking sheets, cut side down.
10) Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and place one pan on each. Bake until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip the pieces and rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back to ensure even baking. Bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until toasted on the second side.
11) Transfer the cookies to wire cooling racks and let them cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Excerpted from THE POLLAN FAMILY TABLE by Corky, Lori, Dana and Tracy Pollan. Copyright © 2014 by Old Harvest Way, LLC. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster.